Administration, teachers help Stepping Stones down child care provider path in St. George

ST. GEORGE — It only took a couple of years of small steps before Stepping Stones became a model for child care providers in St. George.

As previously reported in St. George News, the 24-hour child care service provider is part of Switchpoint Community Resource Center.

Located at 37 S. 200 East in St. George, Stepping Stones volunteers and staff held a fundraiser Saturday to raise money for its summer programs.

“During the summer we want to be able to provide everyday field trips for the kids, at either low-cost or no cost to the family,” Stepping Stones teacher and event organizer Pam Alvarado told St. George News. “And we wanted the event today to be a fun and engaging activity for the kids.”

Stepping Stones students and families at a fundraiser, St. George, Utah, April 6, 2024 | Photo by E. George Goold, St. George News

The parking lot at Stepping Stones was decked out with a jumping house for the kids and tables where kids could put on makeup, play games or take part in raffles.

Stepping Stones has a mission to serve the low-income population of St. George by providing child care for local kids during their parents’ work hours.

A huge portion of the child care they provide involves classes and workshops for the kids.

“I think something that makes us stand out is all the teachers here are very dedicated and passionate about the job that we do, and it shows in the classroom,” Alyssa Marshall, Special Needs Liaison at Stepping Stones, told St. George News.

Marshall said a lot of the teachers at the facility are Education majors from Utah Tech who devote much of their time to the program, often volunteering for far more hours than they get paid for.

She also said that she has seen Stepping Stones go from only one teacher and one student a couple of years ago to a full facility and staff that currently serves over 140 children.

“The first couple of shifts it was literally me with one child,” Marshall said. “So at the beginning it was pretty slow, pretty quiet, growing steadily. Then it just seemed to explode out of nowhere as soon as word spread around.”

And, she said, there is an extensive waiting list.

Marshall said examples of clients are people like single working moms who need childcare during their work shifts, which might come at night or on weekends. But most of the demand, she said, is from working families who need childcare weekdays, 9 a.m. to 5 p.m.

“We try to be really involved with our family engagement activities and we’re intentional with offering support and resources for families with questions about development and things like that,” Marshall said.

“So I think just trying to put our best foot forward has helped spread the word to the people,” she added. “It has definitely increased our demand, which is exciting.”

Miss Greater Zion Aly Johnston (second from left) and friends at a Stepping Stones fundraiser, St. George, Utah, April 6, 2024 | Photo by E. George Goold, St. George News

One of the most popular stations in the parking lot on Saturday featured Aly Johnston, Miss Greater Zion, and her attendants who were all dressed up as princesses.

“Honestly I’m here because I like to be with the kids,” Johnston said. “I just love being with them, so they know my face. I think that’s very important.”

Last January when she was Miss Washington County, Johnston worked with Switchpoint on a canned food drive.

Currently she is seeking sponsors to help kids in low-income families get better access to athletic programs and sports and dance teams.

“Dance helped me as a little kid, just as an outlet for me,” Johnston said. “I think it’s really important for kids to have those opportunities.”

But Saturday it was all about the kids and Stepping Stones.

“They come up and they get so excited just to see all of us,” Johnston said. “I think that is so special.”

To volunteer time, services or monetary donation to Washington County children for after school care, visit Stepping Stone’s website at this link.

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Copyright St. George News, LLC, 2024, all rights reserved.

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